Breath-Hold Survival Course


The PFA Breath-Hold Survival Course is for big-wave surfers, kayakers and other aquatic specialists. It not only teaches basic breath-hold skills, but also:

  • Breath-hold propulsion
  • Safety and problem management
  • Basic life support skills when training in remote areas
In this course you will:

  • Develop breathing techniques for when you have minutes to prep for a breath-hold and for when you only have a moment before a wave comes and you’re underwater.
  • Feel contractions and learn to feel comfortable with the urge to breath or "air starvation" feeling.
  • Learn to understand the psychology of stress and the physiological responses which create it.
  • Learn to better, or simply maintain, valuable breath-hold and comfort skills to survive a 20 m/66 ft fall off a big wave or a drop off a waterfall in your kayak.
You’ll partner up for safe and effective training as maintenance during the down-season or to prepare for which extreme adventure just around the corner. Among the topics covered in this course:

  • Safety and Problem Management for big surf or hazardous water conditions
  • Breath-hold Concepts and Physiology
  • Breath-hold Training (Apnea)
  • Breath-hold Stress Training (Hazardous water condition simulations)
  • Gearless Underwater Propulsion Techniques
  • Psychology of Stress
  • Breath-hold Training Programs

Is this course for you?

It is if:

  • You practice, or are interested in, aquatic activities in hazardous water conditions (big surf, strong currents, rapids, waterfalls, etc.)
  • You’re interested in learning the risks, safety, and problem management correlated with breath-holding
  • You’d like to learn to hold your breath between 2-5 minutes
  • You’d like to learn to hold your breath comfortably with only seconds to prepare
  • You’re not sure of extended breath-holding physiology or the physics which affect you when you’re underwater and want to know the details
  • You want to become more comfortable at depth
  • You want to be more comfortable in a wave or hydraulic hold-down situation
Download and review the PFI medical form. If you say yes to any questions, you must get a doctor's approval to participate in the course. Contact us if you have questions about the medical form.


This course is taught by highly trained PFA Instructors at locations all over the world. It includes:

  • Classroom sessions
  • Two or three confined-water sessions
  • Two or three open-water sessions
The schedule and layout/order of these sessions vary slightly by location. The program typically runs over four days. Click the link on any course to find the exact schedule for that program.


  • You’re comfortable in the ocean
  • You’re able to swim 200 m/660 ft with only a swimsuit and goggles
  • You can tread water for ten minutes
  • Good health and fitness (see Medical Form)
  • 12 years of age with parent/guardian permission

Required equipment

Students must supply:

  • Mask, snorkel, fins
  • Full wetsuit (3 mm for warm water locations; 5-7 mm for cold water locations)
  • Rubber weight belt and a small number of weights


PFA Breath-Hold Survival course prices vary by location, but start at $745. The tuition covers:

  • Personalized instruction from highly trained freediving specialists, including national and world record holders, or their trainers
  • A student-to-instructor ratio of no more than six:one
  • Student manual or eLearning
  • Classroom sessions with detailed knowledge development taught by freediving experts
  • Confined water sessions
  • Open water sessions
  • Hands-on experience with specialty freediving equipment
  • PFA t-shirt
  • Certification card
If the course location requires use of a dive boat, an additional boat fee may apply. This fee, if applicable, will be listed on specific course location pages.


See our upcoming courses page for more information on when and where courses are happening. You can also contact PFA directly if you don’t see a course which fits your schedule.

Registration and payment details

To secure your spot in a course, we need to receive your registration and either a 50 percent deposit or full payment. Any outstanding course balance is due by the start of the course. See our course schedule to register.

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